The US has a much softer system of repression and censorship than the Soviet Union did, so it’s not right to say that the one is equivalent to the other.
What will happen to you in the US if you tweet the wrong link or cite the wrong article in an approving manner is that the wheels of suppression will start cycling. A large part of the selection process in the university system is to teach people who will wind up in cultural work what the limits of speech are in a professional context.
Many journalists take this process quite seriously — it’s common for professional editors and reporters to send incensed e-mails to staffers at alma mater newspapers when a young person leaves the reservation. Universities tend to be crystal clear about what forms of speech are permitted, and which are forbidden, with new restrictions upon the lexicon appearing each year.
“Social media” has made almost everyone into a publisher, but it has also helped to make everyone a potential censor. The legal penalties may be ad hoc and largely indirect, but volunteer censors can use the threat of the enforcement certain laws to gain some real power over even powerful and influential people who begin to cross some important lines.
Despite this, many in conventional, censored publishing have expressed worry about the loss of authority which they have experienced. People seem to not read what they used to, and seem to trust what they read less, which is backed up by surveys.
According to Gallup, only 27% of Republicans trust the media — and rightly so, because the media, along with the professoriat, is overwhelmingly hostile to conservative ideas, conservative political parties, and the culture of conservative people.
What do these people tend to turn to instead? They turn to other sources, which have to be passed from person to person, bypassing the semi-official organs of censorship. It’s easy to get some editor or reporter fired, but it’s a pain in the ass to go after people who might not even be based in the same country, but can still publish essentially seditious and subversive material which undermines the ability of the state to enforce its will without opposition.
Hoping to convince the semi-official organs of censorship to stop doing their jobs, which is to censor, is stupid — if the goal is to shift the political order further to the right. That goal can be better accomplished by just speaking to the people directly, which would be possible even with primitive technology, but is even easier with advanced technology, and just continuing that to re-organize the populace out from under the hostile Brezhnev-type bureaucratic order.